The Daily WTF explains what happens when you let "Enterprise" get on you. Ewwwww.
I just got around to watching last week's "24" episode on my DVR, and I had an epiphany - combining plot elements from that episode with various SciFi flicks I've watched over the years, I now know how to live through a VX nerve gas deployment on a space station:
- Go out where the Nerve gas is, so I can vent the gas to outer space
- Make sure to hold my breath, so I won't be affected by the deadly nerve agent
- Hold on really tight, so that the explosive decompression doesn't suck me into space
- Once all the air is gone, close the hatch to the outside, and get clean air into the area I'm in
- Once the air rushes in, take a breath
This is a highly useful set of information to have put together, and next time I'm in space with terrorists who have nerve gas, I'll know what to do.
How fast can a pure dynamically typed object oriented language be? Exupery is a native compiler for Squeak written in Squeak. This presentation will begin by outlining the current compiler, then go on to outline the future design.
See you in Toronto!
I just put together a short (just over 3 minute) screencast on the support for Stdio and on Subsystems in VisualWorks. There's a bell in the middle - I forgot to turn my email client off. Also, if you look at the console, you can see my typos while getting things set up :)
The funny thing about a lot of the people who claim to be 'Enterprise Architects' is that I've come to realize that they tend to seek complex solutions to relatively simple problems. How else do you explain the fact that web sites that serve millions of people a day and do billions of dollars in business a year like Amazon and Yahoo are using scripting languages like PHP and approaches based on REST to solve the problem of building distributed applications while you see these 'enterprise architect' telling us that you need complex WS-* technologies and expensive toolkits to build distributed applications for your business which has less issues to deal with than the Amazons and Yahoos of this world?
Heh. I couldn't have said that better myself. This summary is great as well:
If you are building distributed applications for your business, you really need to ask yourself what is so complex about the problems that you have to solve that makes it require more complex solutions than those that are working on a global scale on the World Wide Web today.
Very good question to ask the Enterprise Astronauts, I think.
Runar Jordahl explains how to use probes in VisualWorks. This is an area I haven't explored nearly deeply enough!
Has this ever happened to you? An idea pops into your head and you open up your web browser to check it out. But because the home page of your web browser is pointed to a news website, the minute you see the home page filled with news (good and bad) you completely forgot what it was that you had meant to look up only one second ago
Yeah, that happens to me too - more often with a Smalltalk image than a browser, maybe, but the same thing. This resonated because of something that happened last night - my wife sat down at her PC, which is across the foyer from my office. Right after sitting down, she burst out with "Why am I here?"
Aging is definitely better than the alternative though :)
We're holding a Smalltalk party in London on Saturday 8th of April. This will be a great chance to hear a few talks about Smalltalk and related technologies, and meet other Smalltalkers.
The party is being hosted by Pinesoft at their offices beside Chancery Lane tube.
That sounds fun, and I wish I could make it. I'll probably still be recovering from my whirlwind trip to SPA 2006 though :)
Dave Heinemeir Hansson rips James McGovern's "Enterprise" land grab. Like my post on the subject, David recognizes this inertia for what it is:
So by Enterprise, Architect, and Enterprise Architect standards, this gent must be the top of the pop. Thus, allow me to make this perfectly clear: I would be as happy as a clam never to write a single line of software that guys like James McGovern found worthy of The Enterprise.
I'll second that - if you follow the lead of people like McGovern, expect to find higher costs, lower productivity, and later delievery times. But hey - you'll be part of the "in crowd", using "analyst approved techniques", so everyone will buy you a round when you go bankrupt. That's got to be worth something. I really like David's summary of the McGovern thesis:
With that out of the way, we're faced with a more serious problem. How do we fork the word enterprise? The capitalized version has obviously been hijacked by McGovern and his like-minded to mean something that is synonymous with hurt and pain and torment.
Update: Not all analysts are stuck in the "Enterprise zone". The guys at Redmonk seem pretty well grounded.
At least someone at Sun gets it: Gilad Bracha is helping push the idea of hot-swapping in the JVM (JSR 292). However, it's no simle problem for them:
Now before you get all excited, I need to be very clear: we are not making any promises with respect to hotswapping. Full hotswapping support in a system with mandatory static typing remains an active research topic. We really don’t know how far we can go.
There's the problem, of course - locked in the static typing dungeon, they now see that the grass really is greener on the outside. The trouble is, getting there won't be easy, and may not even be possible - given where they are now. This all could have been solved back in 1995, had Gosling been an actual visionary. Too bad he still hasn't gotten the memo. In the meantime, Gilad knows what the benefits are:
This reluctance to commit doesn’t stem from a lack of support for hotswapping, or a lack of appreciation of its value. As an old Smalltalker, I know what we’re missing here. Once you’ve used a system with these dynamic capabilities, you’re hooked for life.
Which is why I'm a Smalltalker :)
Derek Wyatt let's slip some uncomfortable truths for the scions of music and movies: DRM is impractical, and is ultimately a waste of time and resources. We actually went through this years ago, with PC Games and locked floppy disks. That failed too, for the same reasons. There are two really good points he made. One:
The problem is that digital rights management relies on locking content away, and as long as we have general purpose computers capable of running whatever code someone cares to write then there will always be ways around those content locks.
That's not about to change, either. With the rise of open source systems, you're not going to see full lockdown. More relevant are the social issues. To wit:
My daughter is fifteen and cares about copyright. She knows that I rely on it in order to get paid for what I write. But she does not care for copy protection when it stands in her way, and will happily rid DVDs or strip DRM from downloaded music in order to use material flexibly - and fairly.
She buys CDs and DVDs and books, and respects copyright for what it is, a limited monopoly on certain forms of exploitation and use. She does not believe that it is an absolute property right, and she knows perfectly well that ripping a CD is not theft in the way that stealing a disc from a shop is.
That's the major problem for the RIAA and the MPAA: their customers simply don't believe what they say. The vast majority of "theft" is simply fair use. The moguls know it, and we know it. What's going on now is simply denial on their part.
Jonathan Schwartz is flogging the idea of the rentable grid - apparently, Sun is pretty close to being able to offer their $1/hour/CPU service within the US. I hadn't considered the export control issues with this before, and I'm glad I'm not on the management end of dealing with that one - sounds hard.
I do have a few skeptical thoughts though. A computing grid simply isn't - as Schwartz would like us to believe - like electricity. The power I use isn't any different than the power a factory uses (other than volume). Computing, on the other hand, varies. What about storage of whatever application is going to run on this grid? What about network latency? What about the language my application currently resides in? Unless I'm missing something, there are some fairly serious problems with just dropping my grid and using theirs.
I don't know if this rumor has any basis, but if it does, it's going to be painful for Sony - they'll have to pull all the PS2's with the dual shock controllers:
Reports are trickling through this evening that Sony has indeed lost its patent case against Immersion technologies and will be forced to halt sales of its PS2 console.
Immersion last year sued Sony for infringing on its patents. Immersion claims that it owns the technology that powers the rumble in Sony's Dual Shock controllers. It also sued Microsoft for its rumble features in the Xbox, but the boys from Redmond settled out of court.
Could be some interesting times in the console world if this one pans out.
Me, I'm tired, and I don't enjoy being the the go-to guy for snarky folk who try to improve their page-rank by leading idiotic tirades about their supposed insights into my character. I want to enjoy the ability to plan and think before my would-be competitors have a chance to position themselves to grab the fruits of my labor. Too much transparency can be a hindrance, so I'm looking for less of that, and more fun, and more options.
Retire already, and take your self importance out to pasture where it belongs.
It's fairly easy to not get the point when you wish away most of the problems. Step one: wave your hands at contrary evidence as a way to get large amounts of contrary evidence out of site:
The focus of this blog is on Ruby and not on other dynamic languages. For those, they will get their own blog entries. Ruby, to me feels like a trainwreck waiting to happen. So lets list out reasons why Ruby currently makes zero sense for developing enterprise applications
Translated: "Ignore all that Perl, Python, Smalltalk, and Lisp out there. When I said "dynamic, I meant Ruby!". Uh huh. Having done some hand waving to dismiss the decent sized amount of contrary evidence, let's move to step two: without citing any evidence, call all the available book (on Ruby only, naturally) bad:
While there are lots of books on Ruby, none of them are good. Most are mediocre and deal with the simplistic aspects of writing software. The publishing community tends to focus on introductory titles and eschew books that are for folks who already know how to program, which constrains one's ability to do anything complex. Of course the agile community, doesn't count learning on the job as part of the cost of a project
The straw man is taking shape now: "No one uses dynamic languages, err, I mean, Ruby, and besides, the books all stink". On to step three: invoke analysts and large consulting firms as the authorities, and use the time honored tactic of assertion from authority:
Much of the guidance that the enterprises receive come from either big consulting firms such as Accenture, DiamondCluster, Wipro, Bearingpoint and others. If it isn't on their radar then it probably won't reach critical mass. Likewise, the other perspective comes from industry analysts who usually make irresponsible recommendations and oversummarizations of most problem spaces. In this particular scenario, industry analysts aren't even wasting their own time talking much about Ruby.
Yeah, the delivery track record of large consulting firms is so good. These are the outfits that wave five experts at you, and then - once the ink is dry - bury you in an army of untrained new hires. Let's bring in those crowd following analyst firms while we're at it, too - they always do a great job of following the money... err, the trends. Or something.
I could go on, but the post only gets more incoherent from there. What I'd like to know is this: why is this guy so threatened by dynamic languages in general, and Ruby in particular? You might almost get the idea that he's heavily invested in the status quo, and doesn't want to see things change. The tip off there is a few paragraphs down from where I got tired of abusing the article, when he brings up "enterprise architects".
Clearly, I'm doing something wrong in Civ IV. I've been playing Michael online for a few weeks now, and he consistently gets a few techs ahead of me - which rapidly becomes a deficit I can't get out from under. I'm doing something wrong early, and I think it's the build sequence I use at start. Here's what I have been doing:
I think I'm getting killed at step 3 - the barracks takes a long time to build. Should I be building a settler at that step? Doing that prevents the city from growing during the settler build. Maybe I should build a stop gap unit, like a scout or another warrior, and then go to the settler? I'm open to suggestions...
In the minds of the RIAA and the MPAA, the answer is simple - DRM is far, far more relevant than any small time concern you might have with safety. Freedom to Tinker has had a look at the latest wrangling with the Copyright office over DRM exceptions. There's been a request to allow removal of DRM for software/hardware that deals with critical/life saving equipment, and the helpful folks at the RIAA/MPAA said this:
Furthermore, the claimed beneficial impact of recognition of the exemption -- that it would “provide an incentive for the creation of protection measures that respect the security of consumers’ computers while protecting the interests of the record labels” ([citation to our request]) -- would be fundamentally undermined if copyright owners -- and everyone else -- were left in such serious doubt about which measures were or were not subject to circumvention under the exemption.
Pish tosh, they say - who cares bout a life here, or a life ther? One of the nurses in the ER might be using an exempted device to pirate music!
At this point, we need Buffy or Angel. Clearly, we're dealing with Wolfram and Hart here.
Anyone with an incompatible toolkit or language though is not left out in the cold... ebay provides an HTTP and POX interface for each method. Can ebay's approach be considered a success for SOAP and WSDL given this lack of universality?
If WS* were actually easy, and if toolkits were actually compatible, would companies like Ebay bother to maintain a completely parallel RESTian infrastructure?
I've been reading "The Thirty Years War" by Victoria Wedgwood for a bit now - and it's both eye opening and depressing. Eye opening because the war was somewhat different than I had thought.
My impression had been that it was purely a war of schismatic fanaticism - Catholics and Protestants having at it in central Europe. It looks to me like religion was more of an excuse than a cause in this case. Certainly various rulers imposed (or tried to impose) their religious sensibilities once they took over an areas; that's what Ferdinand (then Holy Roman Emperor) tried to do, stamping out Protestantism and trying to impose Catholicism. However, that was something he did in a secondary fashion - it looks to me, based on this book, that it had a lot more to do with dynastic ambition on his part.
Stir in the dynastic clashes of the Hapsburg (Austria/Spain) and Bourbon (France) families, and you got a mess. Various alliances switched in ways that would make a modern person's head swim, being more familiar with the post-Westphalia nation state system. Then you have to stir in the mercenary armies of the era, something we simply haven't seen in the West in hundreds of years.
It's all very depressing, because - to hear the author tell it - there were various points between 1618 - 1648 where the bleeding could have stopped, but various acts of omission prevented that.
I'm chaperoning a girl scout trip today - to the local Roller Skating rink. I've only skated a couple of times since high school, typically at parties I've taken my daughter to. It was a very popular activity back in the late 70's, in the area I grew up (East Fishkill, NY). Should be fun, so long as I can stay off my posterior :)
Digg notes that the SciFi channel has acquired the rights to Firefly - which they hope will lead to a second season. I have my doubts. If you saw the movie, you'll almost certainly have doubts. Not only did they tie up the storyline involving River - they killed off a couple of characters that I would call crucial if the story were to continue. I rather suspect that Whedon is done with this story, but I'd be pleasantly surprised to be wrong.
It's that time again - the weekly log post. First up, BottomFeeder downloads. They ran at the fairly normal rate of 233 per day last week:
Next up - HTML page accesses, by tool:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
That's about the same distribution as always. Next up: Syndication pages access, by tool:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||8.3%|
|Google Feed Fetcher||3.1%|
Still an awful lot of tool diversity there, and a disproportionate share of Mac users. Interesting, that last part.
Mike Arrington - apparently Winer's lawyer in the Weblogs.com purchase, drops a little bomb at the end of a post he made:
The only thing I will add is that I was part of the weblogs.com transaction and was also very dissapointed with Rogers Cadenhead’s performance. I have no information on the second part of the dispute.
In the comments, he refuses to say why he was disappointed. Add one more piece to the drive-by assassination of Cadenhead's reputation. Arrington drops a turd on him, and then says, more or less, "oh no, it wouldn't be proper to discuss this". Sure - after unloading a full round on Cadenhead, he counsels silence. There a lot of words to describe that kind of behavior, and none of them are printable here. "Tool" does comes to mind though.
Winer reciprocated with a wet kiss of a post. Fascinating how some companies are Threats to the Universe, and must be stopped by our hero Dave (some nasty comments he's made about Six Apart and Technorati come to mind), while others are just keen. Doesn't have anything to do with the legal relationships involved, I'm sure.
Rogers responded to this mess here, apparently wondering why someone else has decided to join the pile on party.
Many agile software development teams have struggled with how to write automated acceptance (or customer) tests for their software. Ward Cunningham's Fit (Framework for Integrated Tests) was introduced as a solution to this problem. In Fit, customers and testers write tests in the form of tables, which are interpreted by special purpose "fixture" code that calls into the system under test. This seminar introduces acceptance testing using Fit, FitNesse, and FitLibrary in Smalltalk and includes information for the customers and testers who specify the acceptance test tables, and the developers who implement the fixture code.
See you in Toronto!
It looks like Dell has learned from the "Dell Hell" incident, and is monitoring blogs for mentions of the company's products. However, it looks like they might be being a trifle too pro-active - this guy had nice things to say about their monitor, and got a message that started with:
Thank you for contacting Dell about your issue. I'm glad to be of assistance. I sense you are not getting optimal performance from your system. I want to help you get it working quickly so you can enjoy your computer.
I think they need to put real people, instead of automated systems, in charge of that monitoring :)
After a long absence from the blogosphere, it looks like Steve Waring is posting again. Welcome back!
It looks like I need some help with MySQL. I'm looking at some code that uses MySQL as a back end, and I need a working ODBC connection to it. I've got MySQL 5.0 (from the MySQL Website) installed on Windows. I used the installer, and had it install everything. I then grabbed an ODBC Driver from here.
So now, I try installing a driver, and when I use the "test connection" option in the ODBC console, I get this:
[MySQL][ODBC 3.51 Driver] Client does not support authentication protocol requested by server; consider upgrading MySQL client
Trouble is, that looks like the most up to date client. I'm sure I've misconfigured something; anyone have a tip? Thanks in advance.
Update: Found the solution on this MySQL help page.
I get a good amount of feedback on BottomFeeder, and Rich would like the same kind of thing for the documentation he's provided. On the sidebar, I've added links to four posts he put up asking for feedback - basically, Rich would like to know where the doc has been helpful, and where (if anywhere) there are gaps to be filled. The posts:
- BottomFeeder Tutorial Questions
- BottomFeeder Quick Start Guide Questions
- BottomFeeder User's Guide Questions
- BottomFeeder Technology Guide Questions
I used to be a strong believer in static typing back when I was doing C++ programming. (That was actually something I did for a really long time — I was, in fact, somewhat religiously convinced there was a multitude of conceptual advantages C++ had over Smalltalk. Blame it on my youth.) Nowadays, the only advantage of static typing I still concede is the better support for IDEs and code completion, which you arguably would not need if you didn’t start with a verbose, unmanageable and ungrowable language in the first place.
Cincom Smalltalk has optional code completion support, btw.
Winer is certainly a piece of work. In a post that talks about the mapping choices made by Microsoft in their feed API, he says this:
Dave Johnson experiments with the Microsoft Feeds API, and finds they've made some unusual choices, which may not be good for interop. The solution of course is to parse the XML yourself, and it's definitely not too late for the community to provide the equivalent of the Microsoft toolkit, if perhaps the community can discuss such a thing without flaming out.
Without flaming out? Now why do you suppose that happens? You might wander over to the RSS Public mailing list, where people were discussing exactly this kind of issue. The whole thing flamed out alright - as soon as Dave showed up and spewed venom all over the forum. Why did Microsoft make the choices they made? Because in the absence of a tight spec, that's the sort of thing that happens. They made their best guesses, just like I and every other aggregator developer did. If there were a tight spec, that wouldn't happen as much. Can we get that? No, we can't, and here are Dave's *cough* words of wisdom *cough* on that subject:
It's not that I want it to remain ambiguous, it *has* to remain ambiguous, because the roadmap says so.
It takes the decision out of everyone's hands, no one can change the spec, because the SPEC SAYS IT CAN'T BE CHANGED.
So he spouts that, and then - today - acts stunned that developers working with RSS might come up with different interpretations of the spec, since it is - in his words - ambiguous. He's not only a mean spirited, bitter man - he's an incompetent, mean spirited, bitter man.
BlogCritics is still flogging the rumor that Google is buying Sun. If it's true, I will certainly have a lower regard for Google's business acumen - such a deal makes no sense to me (unless you are Sun management, desperate to parachute out). The newest piece of the rumor? The NYT Dealbook is floating it:
Talk of an imminent sale of Sun Microsystems to Google has been swirling around trading floors and Silicon Valley for more than a week. Shares of Sun, which has a partnership with Google to develop and distribute each other’s technology, spiked up about 4 percent last week as a result of the rumors. The speculation got even more legs after Google purchased Writely, a maker of a Web-based word processor that some people viewed as a product to be added to Sun’s StarOffice suite, which Google may help distribute. It’s also convenient that Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, is the former chief technology officer of Sun.
BlogCritics says this about it:
The prices of Sun and Google are moving further and further apart, too, as the market is realising what may be truth in the rumour: at close of trading yesterday, Sun was up and Google was down again, a rare phenomenon by any standards.
I don't know, you think that might be a collective "WTF???" from the market, aimed at Google?
In today's blogosphere blow up, we have Rogers Cadenhead, Dave Winer - and a bunch of reactions - ranging all over the map. The one that kind of made me think was Scoble's post, and some of the comments in it. It's not the actual controversy that caught my attention though - rather, it's the reaction to it. Let me pull a comment from Nick Bradbury's post - the idea was expressed to some extent by by a lot of people, and by a number of commenters (on various blogs:
These public fights and taking-sides thing is starting to creep me out...
Here's the thing: Life is about taking sides, so buckle up and get used to it. If you have kids, do you maintain a constant state of non-judegementalism? If so, please warn me now, so that I never end up in the same room with them. When you see something wrong, you can criticize it, in the hopes of improving things - or, like all too many people, stay silent and offer tacit support for the bad behavior. Why is Winer such a consistent jerk? Because he has enablers all over the web, ready to step in and say "but really, he's not so bad...". That's what Scoble's post is doing - offering tacit support for Dave's consistent - and continuing - bad behavior.
Non-judgementalism isn't some kind of higher plane of existence - it's acceptance of all things, good or bad. The only thing that gets you is more bad, piled high, with an extra topping of obnoxiousness thrown in. We've all seen children acting out, and wondered to ourselves "what's wrong with the parents? Can't they control that child?" Well, we have the same thing here in the blogosphere. Too many people have bowed down and worshipped at the house of Dave for too long, and he acts just as you would expect: badly.
Update: Shelly Powers doesn't pull any punches, and calls this one the way it is. There are a lot of people who are staying quiet about Winer's bad behavior, and Shelly names names. It's past time for Dave's enablers to stage an intervention.
Update 2: As to the various people who plead that they can't take sides - go read Rogers' post. Then read Dave's response. Now, at that point, you might shrug your shoulders, figure it's a he said/he said thing, and leave it alone. However - cast your mind back to this post from the RSS-Public mailing list:
And with that, I am banging the gavel and ending this experiment of Rogers's.
Tomorrow I will talk individualy with all the corporate members of the "board" and ask them to resign.
Rogers may then wish to propose a new structure, one that is consistent with the "come back to earth" message.
They may wish to join with him, or they may not.
If anyone else decides to join up with him on the terms of the old "advisory board" I will talk with each of them individually, until they see that it serves no purpose.
This process will go on until Rogers gets the idea that it isn't go to work.
I may at some time send him a bill for all of my time that he is wasting. [ed: emphasis added]
Good night and good luck to all of you.
Well. After that, Dave went and pressured the VC's behind a few of the people on the board, and got those folks to drop off. As Rogers said in his post, there's no one Dave can pressure to get Rogers to back off, so instead, he tossed what amounts to a SLAPP suit at him. Boy, that sure paints all the people who won't call BS on Dave with glory, doesn't it? Heck, I went back and re-read Scoble's post - and what a mass of ill thought out FUD it is. For example:
So, what does my philosophy tell me to do? Protect the inventor. Protect the guy who brought us SOAP, XML-RPC, RSS, OPML, podcasting, and a few other things here and there. Against the angry mob. Why? Cause if I don’t, then maybe some new inventor will say “this space sucks, I’m gonna go somewhere that they appreciate inventors.”
And if that happens I’ll lose. We’ll all lose.
Sheesh, what a mass of crap. Dave hardly needs protection. He's the one tossing a lawsuit, as a thinly veiled way to get Rogers to give up the RSS Board. If Rogers decides to let that go (and I'd hardly blame him for doing so), then you watch - this suit will disappear. What I'd like to see is some of the supposedly leading luminaries of the blogosphere - Scoble amongst them - step up and grow a spine.
ON top of everything else, DRM sucks down additional battery power:
When it comes to the Creative Zen Vision:M's 14-hour claim, CNET got about 16 hours of playback time with MP3s from a full charge, which was a nice surprise. However, when they tried playing WMA 10 DRM crippled subscription tracks on it, they only got just over 12 hours; a loss of almost 4 hours (~25%) of playback time due to the battery-hungry DRM. CNET found similar results with other players with WMA DRM drastically reducing battery life by up to around 20%. Apple's FairPlay DRM seems to have less of an effect with battery life being reduced by around 8% when compared with MP3 playback.
When it comes to maximising battery life in a portable MP3 player, this is a clear sign that one should avoid playing DRM protected music if at all possible and also another good reason to get the music converted into a more battery-friendly format. While 2 to 4 hours may not seem a lot to some people, this can be the difference between listening to music to the end of a lengthy journey or getting left in silence a couple of hours before the journey is complete.
That's the RIAA for you, insisting on technology that drives you to find ways around it. That piracy they see? Like Dave Winer, they need a mirror to ponder the answer.
IMHO, any records Barry Bonds sets should have huge asterisks next to them - it's very odd to have your home run production go up as you age. The good news: Selig has finally realized that this might be a problem.
I've been away from the blog most of the day writing a draft article. I've been asked to write up my experience creating the blog server, so I've been trying to piece that back together from memory and older versions of the code all morning. I have the sheer excitement of a dentist appointment coming up too - fun stuff there.
Sony's release dates for the PS3 are starting to look like the planning for Longhorn (remember when it was being called that?). Yesterday, Sony pulled together a press conference to announce that the PS3 would launch in November:
Sony will delay the release of its much-awaited PlayStation 3 gaming console until November from its planned spring debut because more work is needed on its next-generation DVD technology, the company said on March 15, the Associated Press reported.
Translation: We tried to shove too many next generation things into this console at once, and we are really hoping that the prices will drop on some of the. Like, say, the DVD player. And this sounds discouraging:
Kutaragi said Sony is still trying to finalize the copyright protection technology and other standards for the Blu-ray DVD disc, the format for PlayStation 3, and next-generation video for the company's electronics gadgets in the works.
I wonder if they can screw the pooch as badly as they did with music CD's?
The Smalltalk Industry Council Announces the Second Annual Smalltalk Solutions Coding Competition
March 16, 2006 - The Smalltalk Industry Council (STIC) is pleased to announce the second annual Smalltalk Solutions Smalltalk Coding Competition.
The Smalltalk Solutions Technical Conference being held in Toronto will serve as the home for the coding competition finale. Smalltalk Solutions is the premier forum for bringing together Smalltalk users, developers, vendors, and enthusiasts.
Coding contest prizes include:
- iPod Video
- iPod Nano
- iPod Shuffle
Each of the finalists will also receive an individual membership to the STIC.
The Smalltalk Solutions Coding Competition is broken into two phases of competition. The first phase begins on Friday, April7th at 9:00 am EST and ends on Sunday, April 9th at midnight EST. Registration is open and all participants must register for the competition by sending an email to Michael Lucas-Smith at by April 6, 2006. All coding must be done in Smalltalk, any dialect of Smalltalk.
The Second and final phase of the competition will take place the evening of Tuesday, April 25th onsite at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, home of LinuxWorld and Network World Smalltalk Solutions 2006.
Prize winners will be announced during the trade show on Wednesday, April 26, 2006.
Smalltalk Industry Council
Software with Style
Looks like Rogers Cadenhead has found the dark side of Dave Winer - in the form of a "cease and desist" letter sent from an attorney Winer has retained. This is how Dave treats his erstwhile friends; it's not hard to figure out why fewer and fewer people can work with him. With respect to this "oh, it's hard to be Dave" post, Winer needs to buy a mirror. Every time he wonders why people dislike him, he can go have a look in it.
Oh, and to be extra clear - I take back every disdainful thing I ever said about Atom. The people involved in that effort knew about Dave, and I didn't. The whole thing makes a heck of a lot more sense now.
Thanks to Michael, the coding contest for this year's show is a go. The early details:
The 2nd annual Coding contest is on
Phase One begins April 7th
Interested parties should register with Michael Lucas-Smith before April 7th
More details to come
See you in Toronto!
Well, it's less than an hour since I looked out my window at the trashcans blowing away - and away they've gone. Here's the same view across the street now:
All that's left is a forlorn trash can lid. The cans went down the street - you may not be able to pick them out here, but they are at the intersection at the end of this shot:
It's time to register for Smalltalk Solutions 2006 - early bird registration ends this Friday - Advance registration goes through April 17. The Advance registration is still a discount from on-site, but not as much of one. Contact Suzanne Fortman for the Smalltalk Solutions discount code, which will give you an even bigger break.
See you in Toronto!
There seems to be a rule in this neighborhood - if it's trash day or recycling day, the wind has to be gusting strongly enough to blow the cans and bags down the street. I just went out to rescue my trash can after it got emptied - and watched the wind blowing the neighbor's cans and lids down the street. Two of the three cans in this picture are from a house two doors down, and have landed there. Since I took the shot, one of them has jumped into the middle of the street:
I figured I ought to secure my own trashcan, so I took it back to the side of the house and weighted it down with a spare paving block - that's the gray thing sitting partly in the trashcan:
That's pretty much the only way to be sure around here :) A few weeks ago the can just disappeared - it came back a few days later. When people find trashcans they don't recognize, they drop them by the shared mailbox, figuring someone will claim them. There is some good news in all this - the weather has been just warm enough for the bulbs to sprout - spring flowers:
When it gets just a little warmer, it'll be time to get my grill tuned up. Mmmm, grilling....
Stupid in this case meaning my code :) I was looking at the bug list for BottomFeeder on SourceForge yesterday, and found a bug I should have dealt with a long while back:
(url here) is an example of a feed that doesn't have dates attatched to items.
I cannot sort items within a sub-folder by date if the folder includes such a feed.
Well, that seemed like something that shouldn't happen. I thought I was assigning default timestamps to items without them, but it turns out I wasn't. Why, I'm not sure; I guess it hadn't come up before. In any case, it was a simple fix. After getting an Item object from a feed, I have post processing code to clean up problems. That code does things like:
- Insert default titles
- Add the current time as the point of last update
- If there's no link, and the GUID looks like an URL, consider it the link as well
And now, it goes ahead and slaps a timestamp on items that are missing them. Most of this only applies to RSS; the Atom spec mandates behavior in these areas, so it's less of a problem.
CNet has a report up on the changing face of voting machinery in the US. I'd say this is another expedition into "management by magazine" land, searching for the elusive silver bullet fix. Consider:
As a result, almost 82 million registered voters will have seen voting systems changes over the past six years. The number of counties using hand-counted paper ballots this November will be only about half as many as in 2000.
Hand counting may not be sophisticated, but - with decent monitoring, I'd guess that it's pretty darn reliable. Instead, we have a plethora of whiz bang touch screens with no paper ballots at all in many places now. The response to the 2000 election looks a lot like the 1995-1996 introduction of Java to me - endless bouts of "all the cool shops are doing this" silliness, with no thought as to what might be the best business solution.
I suppose I should be encouraged - the software industry is no dumber than anything else :)
In contrast to standard distribution middleware such as CORBA or Java RMI, an SOA implements processes as first-class entities.
Had I read that, I'd have the same bewildered reaction Patrick has:
This is on page 58 of the March/April IEEE Software magazine. I wonder if the editors have any more sense of how wrong this is than the authors?
First of all, SOA has no formal definition. Secondly, in any common use of the term SOA, there is nothing resembling a process, let alone a first-class process.
This is what happens when you let the marketing staff get ahold of a few buzzwords :)
A host computer, containing processes for creating rich-media applications, is accessed from a remote user computer system via an Internet connection. User account information and rich-media component specifications are uploaded over the Internet for a specific user account. Rich-media applications are created, deleted, or modified in a user account, with rich-media components added to, modified in, or deleted from the rich-media application based on information contained in a user request. After creation, the rich-media application is viewed or saved on the host computer system, or downloaded to the user computer system over the Internet.
And says this:
Now read that very carefully. People are apparently reading the first sentence and stopping. This isn’t a list of “or”s here, the patent covers a piece of technology that incorporates ALL these things, not one or the other. This patent covers an application that is specifically designed to CREATE and manage multiple RIAs under a user account and either host them for the user or make them available for download. That’s the patent. Make more sense? It makes me wonder if people are really that stupid or if they’re just not reading everything.
Hmm. You mean like cookies interacting with a server to determine access and so on? Gee, that's never been done before either. So yeah, your AJAX application is fine, just so long as there's no user associated state involved. I stand by my original criticism.
Well, this was unexpected. I uninstalled the IE7 beta the other day, since it was unstable (and did not work with our internal websites). So I restored to IE6, and then noticed two oddball things:
- Outlook Express was gone
- Microsoft Paint was gone
The first one I didn't care about so much, since I use Eudora. I use Paint for some tasks though, and it was just gone. I can't restore it either - trying to do so prompts for the XP service pack 2 CD (yeah, like those exist), which I don't have. The big question: How the heck did uninstalling IE 7 beta kill Paint? What the heck is up with that?
Ten is a good number lings to a Reg Developer story that demonstrates something - it demonstrates that patent offices in Europe can be every bit as stupid as those here in the US. Here's Sun getting a patent for changing the byte code set for Java:
The Patent Office has concluded that Sun Microsystems can patent an invention for a reduced set of Java Bytecode instructions the form of instructions that a Java Virtual Machine will follow to execute a Java program.
Yeah, there's something no one ever thought of before - changing the byte code to be more efficient. At least the ruling patent official is really up to speed on modern developments:
"In this case, I do not consider that the invention lies in excluded subject matter as such, i.e. a computer program," he said. "The invention was almost certainly made at a much earlier stage in the creative process, before any computer program had been written (or flowcharts generated) with a view to implementing the invention."
Flow Charts? What year is it again?
Anyway, I totally understand why Dave would want to walk away. I’m staring at hundreds of emails and just don’t want to deal with my inbox right now. I’m gonna take the rest of the day off and hang out at SXSW. My sessions are over and now I just have to catch up with the email. I totally understand why Dave wants to take off from his blog. The pressure is just incredible to do more, more, more.
Who made me a gatekeeper? I don’t want that job.
Sheesh, what pressure? I write here because I feel like it. I don't feel pressure to write - I see things of interest to me and comment on them. I toss up Smalltalk advocacy, with examples. It's nice that I've built a decent sized traffic stream, but it's not what motivates me.
If writing is no longer fun, then hey - stop. In the meantime, don't take it too seriously. None of us are Edward Gibbons writing about the fall of the Roman Empire - it's just not that serious. Some people need to step back, take a breath, and just have fun with it.
I'd say that putting the spotlight on bad DRM helps - witness this statement from Sony on the analog "hole", with respect to Blu-Ray DVD:
In an important aside, Don Eklund, SPHE's senior vice president for advanced technologies, said that Sony's initial Blu-ray discs — and all of its Blu-ray titles for the forseeable future — will be free of the "Image Constraint Token" that's built into the Blu-ray and HD DVD standards. This controversial digital flag instructs the player to down-res the video signal from its analog component-video outputs to a standard-definition image to prevent high-resolution recordings — but at the same time prevents viewing of HDTV images on any TV or device not equipped with a copyright-protected HDMI digital input. That would eliminate any gain in image quality for HDTV early-adopters who bought displays prior to two or three years ago, when DVI and HDMI digital inputs were introduced.
It's hardly all good - the very next paragraph says this:
Eklund noted that Sony's key piracy concern isn't with analog HDTV signals but with the digital HDTV signal coming off the disc, which both Blu-ray and HD DVD are protecting with the robust Advanced Access Content System (AACS) endorsed by the Hollywood studios. If analog copying does become a problem down the road, the policy could change, he said — but for now, "we have no plan to implement the Image Constraint Token. All of Sony's titles will come out of the analog output at full definition." He added that other studios still have the discretion to activate the token for all or individual titles.
My take on this? The DRM nightmare they got themselves into with the rootkit CD's has constrained them a bit - but only a bit.
Vassili starts talking about Splash:
To answer some of the questions I expect.
When will it be ready? For some definition of "ready", expect a preview in the release this fall. No promises as to the level of functionality of the preview--but much more than what you see above!
Yes, I will post it in the open repository. But, only when it gets to the point of actually being at least somewhat usable and useful. I don't want to spend time on publishing to two places until then.
It will not be a multiple-window setup like the current UIPainter.
Stay tuned to Vassili's blog for more information
I'm not normally a fan of class action suits - the biggest winners are always the lawyers - but I'll make an exception for the RIAA. I'm all in favor of giving them a taste of the rectal probe:
Like a shark smelling blood in the water, the latest round of investigations has attracted the lawyers. Prominent California attorney William Lerach has now launched a class action suit against the labels on behalf of consumers who have allegedly been overcharged for music. This in itself is not particularly surprising given the ongoing federal investigation into the same topic, but the lawsuit does contain some interesting tidbits. For instance, the suit claims that the music labels fought tooth and nail against the arrival of online music stores, and that they did so by launching their own poorly-conceived (on purpose) online ventures.
I had not heard about this suit before, but it looks like Microsoft's decision to settle - leaving Sony to sight the battle against a patent for game controllers with feedback - is going to bite Sony:
Sony's struggle with Immersion dates back to 2002, when Immersion came after Sony and its DualShock vibration feedback system for controllers. Immersion also pursued Microsoft and its controllers, but Microsoft settled with the company and entered into a licensing agreement, leaving Sony to fend for itself. In September of 2004, Sony lost a jury trial and was ordered to pay US$82 million in damages for infringing on Immersion's patents. Half a year later in March of 2005, Sony lost an appeal and damages were revised to nearly $91 million.
Worse, it looks an awful lot like Sony tried to buy off the guy who filed the patent:
In this latest round, Sony argued that Immersion was holding back evidence and requested that the original verdict be tossed out. They argued that inventions of Craig Thorner—once a consultant for Immersion—were not fully and properly disclosed. Sony argued that the full body Thorner's work on haptic feedback reveals weaknesses in Immersion's patent claims, and that such weaknesses are grounds for a new trial.
US District Judge Claudia Wilken has sided with Immersion. The problem is Mr. Thorner. While Thorner did once work for Immersion, he has also received a $150,000 payment from Sony for royalties and a purchase option on another patent. Although the money in question appears to be technically unrelated to Thorner's testimony, Wilken wrote that Thorner's testimony was suspect and that it was quite possible that he viewed his testimony as a favor to Sony. Since Thorner's testimony serves as the basis for Sony's new attack on Immersion's patents, Wilken's ruling effectively puts this line of appeal to rest.
Regardless of the merits of the patent, I doubt the court will take that payment lightly. I think Microsoft just got another leg up in the console space.
I've read plenty of criticisms of Microsoft's employee review system, but this one caught my eye:
Microsoft employees are growing more and more disillusioned with stagnating salaries and an increasingly contentious review system that they say is unfair, according to a recent report in WashTech News. That's led to more defections by senior engineers and growing dissatisfaction among rank-and-file workers, the report said.
Until I got to the next paragraph:
The publication is affiliated with the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, a labor union affiliated with the AFL-CIO that has tried to organize Microsoft workers in the past. At issue is the company's performance review system, according to the report. Microsoft employs some 38,000 workers in the U.S. alone.
Now, never mind what you think of Microsoft, or this union, or unions in general. Just consider the concept of a "news story" that uses a source that was unsuccessful in its attempt to deal with the subject of the story. Nah, there wouldn't be a conflict of interest there, hmm?
Maybe CNN should just cut out the middleman and host press releases from advocates - employers, unions, political parties. That way I wouldn't have to go all the way to the second paragraph in order to evaluate the usefulness of a story.
We offer students of colleges and universities the opportunity to volunteer at the show. This entails assisting speakers in their session room and a variety of other duties photocopying handouts that sort of thing. In the time in between the specific job duty they are free to attend any seminar they choose. Or they can request that they volunteer in the specific seminar rooms that have the sessions they want to hear.
Please send an email to email@example.com and request a student application. We need at least 40-50 students.
See you in Toronto!
Apple is one of a number of companies that are going to get a crash course in globalization shortly - it looks like France is going to try and force them to open the iTunes store up:
It would no longer be illegal to crack digital rights management -- the codes that protect music, films and other content -- if it is to enable to the conversion from one format to another, said Christian Vanneste, Rapporteur, a senior parliamentarian who helps guide law in France.
"It will force some proprietary systems to be opened up ... You have to be able to download content and play it on any device," Vanneste told Reuters in a telephone interview on Monday.
Some people seem to think that Apple will shut down the store in France, but that's going to be hard to do - France, like the rest of the Continent (outside the UK) uses the Euro. If you use an ISP based across the border, what are they going to do? I suspect that they'll have to let it happen.
This reminds me of "daytime running lights" on cars. A few years back, Canada mandated that. Manufacturers started shipping cars that did that automatically, so that drivers wouldn't have to remember to turn them on manually. Given the easy border crossings, and the commonality between the US and Canadian car markets, most cars in the US now follow the Canadian convention, even without the matching law.
Bottom line, companies operating globally have to pay ever closer attention to the legal environment everywhere they operate.
I found this "I want to be alone" website to be truly amusing. I especially like the IMolatr :)
Here's one of the downsides of outsourced hosting that I'm not sure is solveable - if the thing being hosted is critical to your business, who cares about it more: you, or the hosting company? If there's a problem, who will be more highly motivated to fix it? That seems to be the sentiment behind this story from CNet:
In a meeting here with reporters on Friday, Gianforte said reliability and cost issues mean the company isn't interested in managed hosting services, including the $1-per-processor-per-hour Sun Grid.
He tried turning over his servers to a managed hosting company seven years ago, he said, and the move was a "miserable failure" that has since been reversed. Managed hosting companies want control over computers, but RightNow needs to be the boss in order to keep its equipment running around the clock. "We need control to get that kind of reliability," Gianforte said. Nothing has changed in the last seven years to change his mind, he added.
There's also the cost thing:
It doesn't make financial sense, either, Gianforte said. Running his own data center, including engineers and other staff, costs 6 percent of revenue, and he expects that to drop to 4 percent in the next two to three years. One of his top competitors, SAP, pays IBM much more than that to host its software-as-a-service offering, he said.
That certainly sets a target for any outsourcer who wants to get business, now doesn't it?
If you follow the Public Store, you're about to see a change in the RSS Feed. Back when I first started publishing that, the feed generator didn't produce a GUID for the items. Most aggregators simulate one under those circumstances, but the information that most of them use (often the link) wasn't going to work out so well here - the link for each item in this case is the same.
So, I've gone ahead and added a GUID. The downside is, on the first round of updates, you'll see a bunch of "new" items that aren't actually new - but it should behave better over time.
There are only 4 days left for early registration discounts for Smalltalk Solutions 2006 - advance registration discounts last until April 17. You'll want the early discounts - full registration pays for all sessions, including tutorials - like the "Using AJAX from Seaside" tutorial with Andrew Catton and Avi Bryant:
See you in Toronto!
Reading the overview of JSR 292 brings up another interesting planned feature: updating class structures at runtime. It‘s already possible to use HotSwap to update the contents of method bodies of loaded classes, but structural change of the class definition is impossible (causing the dreaded debugger dialog “Hot code replace failed”). One annoying restriction here is the it‘s not even possible to change method signatures or just add/remove methods from a class.
As he points out later, it's simple to do that kind of update in Ruby, and I've pointed out that I do exactly that kind of live update to the server code running this blog. Heck, I did that again over the weekend. I think the people responsible for the JVM are going to end up re-inventing everything we already did in Smalltalk, Lisp, and Ruby if they decide to take on 292. If they are true to past form though, it will involve a lot of really "interesting" syntax changes :)
Cees has a brief report up on the Smalltalk party that took place in Brussels over the weekend. Apparently, they are planning more of these in various European locales over the next few months.
Minds changed. Respectful debate, honesty, passion, and working systems created an environment that not even the most die-hard enterprise architect could ignore, no matter how buried in Java design patterns. Those who placed technical excellence and pragmaticism above religious attachment and vendor cronyism were easily convinced of the benefits that broadening their definition of acceptable technologies could bring.
The people who are still unconvinced are those that just don’t care or are too lazy to spend a small amount of time researching and validating the arguments, which brings us back nicely to James Gosling’s recent statements.
There's a lot more as well, and it's all worth reading.
Update: More piling on here, at Developer Journals:
It really does seem that we're beginning to emerge from the 10 year long Java nuclear winter, when excellent dynamic languages such as Objective-C or Smalltalk were kicked out of the mainstream.
In contrast what underwhelms me about the design of Java is how it feels like it was done by someone who never really programmed in Smalltalk or Objective-C, and so they just left out any sort of introspection, left out meta-classes, left out dynamic method redirection via #doesNotUnderstand, and left out open classes that you could add methods to via categories. It was obviously designed by someone who had tried C++, found it over-complicated and designed a simpler alternative with a runtime derived from the Pascal p-code interpreter.
Read it all.